I shut out the lights in the living room and stepped outside. It was ten o’clock and another balmy night in Venice. The rough newly cut St. Augustine grass prickled my bare feet as I took a few tentative steps into the front yard, turning around I stared at the front window, ignoring the smudge that was now reflecting back at me from the glow of the pumpkin lanterns, I smiled as I admired my latest handy-woman piece. I love Halloween. Ever since I was a child I loved everything about the season. Pumpkin pie flavor is everywhere, the nights get a bit cooler and the wind in the palms at night remind me of the crackling of the dying leaves back in New York. Satisfied with Mr. Creepy and his positioning, I retreated back into the comforts of the house, wiping my now slightly sanded feet on the mat I shut the screen door and locked it. I have been keeping the main door open, letting the cool night breeze blow through to air the house and was enjoying the quiet of the neighborhood. Tomorrow would be Halloween and I had the candy ready to go, still sitting unopened in the bags because I knew if I opened them, I would have to try some just to make sure and if I just eat one…well, you know that never happens, I would be stressed if I ran out of candy for the kids. Being alone I wouldn’t be able to leave and go get more and besides, Maya would be out with her friends and would freak out if she were to come back early to find me missing. I knew she’d be so excited about Mr. Creepy because she likes the yard decorations in the neighborhood and was disappointed that we hadn’t put anything up except on the inside. What good was it if no one see’s them she asked and I finally got the point so created the Mr.
I wasn’t ready to sleep yet so I went into the other room at the far end of the house where I wouldn’t disturb her sleep. Herbie the dachshund lay soundly on his dog bed and being used to my comings and goings through the house, didn’t even lift an eyelid to see where I was going. Typical dog, run all day and then nap the night away. He was a good dog, not much of a watchdog but when he wasn’t playing or barking, he could usually be found sleeping and commencing with his happy dog dreams, chasing things and mumbling like only a sleeping dog can. I shut the door with a gentle click and opened the window to let the breeze find me. I sat in the darkness for a few minutes, peering out the window at the neighborhood. This was my writing room and beyond the window lay a garden that had whispery little strands of grass with pinkish tops that swayed back and forth. I had always found the song of the grasses so soothing, almost like my own personal sand dune minus the water. I reached in front of me, clicking on the small light that sat on the desk and grabbed the laptop. Logging in I looked through a few pictures to find something inspiring to write about, finding a beautiful scene of woods in the fall, perhaps Colorado or out West somewhere. Perfect to stir the senses I thought and then I heard a growl. I perked up and listened closer, figuring Herbie must be having a doggie nightmare…chasing the bad guys again I said and chuckled a bit. Herbie would be the last dog on earth to chase anything short of a squirrel. The growling continued and I knew then that this was no dog dream, and the growl intensified and then the barking began. I shut off the light and looked out the window, seeing nothing going on outside I realized he must have been barking at Mr. Creepy. I mean come on, the dog watched me put him up and rearrange him so it’s not like it was his first time seeing him. I opened the door and went through the hallway, quietly telling Herb to shush ’cause he was gonna wake Maya up. I walked into the living room and Herbie stood on his dog bed with his hairs standing up on his back, but he was staring at the front door. I looked over to where the dog was staring and saw a form standing silently beyond the door. I knew the screen door was locked but it was a flimsy old thing and I knew if someone wanted to make their way in they easily could have, why hadn’t I closed the heavy front door I thought, chastising myself for not being more careful. Who’s there I said with a shaking voice. I hadn’t moved and I just watched as the figure stood there unmoving, still no sound had come from his lips and I think this freaked me out even worse. I asked once more and when still got no response, told him I had already called the police, hoping to see him leave the front porch and leave but he just stood there not moving. I saw Herbie was still growling and he began to move closer to me as if in protection mode. I told him to stay and ran to the door, feeling as if my legs were rubber and my heart racing, my breath coming in short gulps, slammed the door and turned the lock. The cops are coming I shouted and then I heard Maya from the doorway asking me what was going on. Go back to your room honey, I’ll be done here in a minute but she just stood there, half asleep staring at me. Go Back to bed NOW I shouted at her, now so afraid of who may be out there and realizing I don’t have a gun, no way to protect myself and my baby. She looked at me confused. I saw the form beyond the glass doors move slightly and I grabbed Maya and the landline off of the table and ran into her room. I looked up to see the curtains moving and just about came out of my skin, running over I slammed the window shut and locked it. Maya starting crying and shaking, staring at me with those big frightened eyes and I just held her as she broke down. Mommy, I’m scared she said between sobs and I just held her so tight and told her that everything was going to be okay. I dialed 911 and told the story to the dispatcher, a nice lady who told me they’d send someone over shortly but they had a lot going on in town, someone tried to carjack a woman and not succeeding, had taken off on foot, but that was going on across town so not to worry but someone would be coming. Just sit tight and lock yourselves in and wait. I rocked Maya back and forth as we sat on her bed and then I heard a tap on the window. Just a single tap. There are no trees out there so I knew it had to be someone. I shut out her light and waiting in the darkness, not seeing anything except the still curtain and then the knock happened again and then again. Steady and every ten seconds, another knock. I’m freaking out right now and feeling so helpless when I see a car move down the street, a bright light scanning the yards around us and then settling on ours. Oh thank God, finally they’re here, I told Maya to stay put and I’d be right back. As I opened her door I heard the steady knock at the front door. Two gentlemen stood there with a flashlight and I slowly opened the door and saw the officers standing there. They asked if everything was okay and I told them about the person who was at my door and then about the knocking on Mayas window. They told me to lock the door again and they’d go around the house and check things out. I did as asked and saw the lights moving about the yard, behind the hedges and then they moved into the neighbor’s yard. It was then that I heard the shouting. The neighbors back motion sensor clicked on and I watched as the two officers struggled with a large dark shape. One officer pulled out a long stick and swung it hard at the form but before my very eyes, the stick moved right through the form. The officer turned almost in a circle from the force of his swing which had made no connection and the other smaller officer pulled out his Taser. I could see the lines shoot through the air but again, they connected with nothing. It was then that the guns were pulled. Both of them took a few steps back and held them up in a firing stance and the form just stood there, seemingly growing larger right in front of them. The rounds blew orange glowing lines as the guns fired one after another and the form just slowly dissipated into nothing. I think I must have been seeing things, because they had been fighting with something and then suddenly, nothing was there. The officers stood there for a few minutes talking and the flashlights moved around again and I heard the sound of sirens in the distance. Backup reinforcements I thought. I went back into the living room hearing the cops knocking on the door again, I opened it and they told me that they were still looking into it and that someone would come and stay with us if it would help. I told him that it would be a great idea because at this point, I was a rattled mess. More officers showed up and a nice lady cop who came to keep us company while they did their thing out in the yard, bright lights were brought in and I could see them in the neighbors yard measuring things and taking pictures. I tucked Maya into my own bed and told her I’d be in shortly but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep tonight and most likely would pull Maya from school tomorrow to let her sleep in longer. I asked the lady, whose name was Jill if she wanted some coffee and she politely said that it would be a welcome treat. I went into the kitchen and brewed her up a K-cup and grabbed a bottle of water for myself, walking back into the living room I handed her the cup, enjoying the scent of the pumpkin chai as it found my nose. Halloween, yes, tomorrow is Halloween and I now am not sure I’m ready for it. Having enough tricks with not enough treats, I walked over and grabbed the bag of candy off of the counter, slipped a Reese’s out of its wrapper and enjoyed the sweet taste of chocolate as it mellowed on my tongue. I sat down on the couch and finally took a large breath. I looked up and Mr. Creepy was gone, the window empty.